STK`s Shark repellant
In order to understand StorageTek`s response to IBM`s ESS launch, a little history is in order. In 1996, the two companies entered into an OEM arrangement where IBM would resell STK`s virtual disk array as the Ramac Virtual Array (RVA) while STK handled most of the engineering effort. Anticipating IBM`s ESS introduction and the fraying of the partnership (a la HP and EMC earlier this year), STK in January resumed direct sales of its mainframe arrays, and in April launched the Shared Virtual Array.
IBM has stated that it continue to market and sell STK`s virtual disk technology, but the OEM relationship ends in December of next year. By that time, IBM is expected to have its own virtual disk architecture that will be incorporated into the ESS array.
When IBM announced the ESS in July, STK immediately countered with its "Step Up" program and announced plans for multiplatform connections. For example, STK planned to add Unix support to SVA by the end of this month, and support for Fibre Channel connectivity is due in the first quarter of next year. STK officials had no comment on delivery dates for NT support.
Under STK`s "Step Up" initiative, the company will provide upgrade programs to its SVA arrays and will assume IBM`s warranties and service agreements on RVAs. "STK desperately wants to take the RVA accounts direct, and they`ve got good technology," says John McArthur, program director at International Data Corp., a market research firm in Framingham, MA. "If they can get their marketing turned around they`ve got a shot at it, but it`s going to take some work."
Virtual disk technology separates physical and logical storage, resulting in a number of benefits, including a sharp reduction in physical disk space and management requirements--both of which translate into lower costs. There are approximately 6,000 sites currently using virtual disk technology, according to industry estimates.